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DUI Arrests in Rhode Island

The officer must have had reasonable belief that the individual had been driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and must have informed the individual of his or her rights and the penalties that were to follow after the violation. Thus, the officer must have stopped the individual based on reasonable suspicion that he or she was driving or operating the vehicle under the influence, and the officer needs only probable cause to arrest the alleged intoxicated driver. The officer may only use the breathalyzer test from the individual as evidence of probable cause in making the arrest. Once the driver is arrested, he or she is put under continuous observation.

According to Rhode Island cases and secondary sources, the individual’s BAC result is not dispositive in releasing or convicting the person. In other words, although the individual’s BAC may be greater than the limit provided in Rhode Island’s DUI laws, the person may not be convicted of a DUI violation, but, on the other hand, although the individual’s BAC may be less than the limit provided in the DUI statutes, the person may be convicted of a DUI violation based on the totality of other competent evidence that establishes, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to cause the person incapable of safely operating the vehicle. Thus, the totality of other evidence that establishes the person’s inability to operate the vehicle safely will be an essential element to convict a person of DUI. Furthermore, a DUI offense requires that the individual’s intoxication of alcohol and/or drugs caused him or her to be unable to safely operate the vehicle, so the issue is not whether the person was intoxicated but rather he had unsafely operated the vehicle while under the influence. Therefore, the officer may make a valid arrest for a DUI offense after lawfully stopping the driver and observing driver’s behavior that may reasonably lead the officer to believe that the individual is intoxicated while operating the vehicle.

Elements of DUI Offense

When 1) driving or operating a vehicle 2) while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, toluene, or any controlled substance (“influence of alcohol and/or drugs”), 3) with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) 0.08% or more or the presence of drugs in the blood, then he is guilty of a misdemeanor for driving under the influence of liquor or drugs (“DUI”). The officer must show that the BAC of the individual was 0.08% or higher, and that he or she exhibits any drugs, toluene, any controlled substance, or any combination of the drugs and alcohol in his or her body fluids. The fact that the individual was legally entitled to use alcohol or drug will not constitute a defense against a DUI charge.

However, for those who are legally underage to consume alcohol but are charged with DUI have two separate categories of provisions that apply. There are general underage DUI provisions that apply to those who are under 18 years of age, while there are provisions that apply to those who are between 18 and 21 years of age (DWI).


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